Given that Halloween is in the middle of fall, hot drinks are an absolute necessity for weather-chilled guests on their way in from the cold. Even here in Southern California, Halloween night is usually chilly enough to warrant a coat, and a warm toddy is a welcoming sight. Traditionally, you may find some hot mulled cider, a hot buttered rum or even a holiday punch like wassail, but there are many variations to be made on the toddy formula of spirit, sugar and hot water.
This particular recipe is taken from Raising the Bar which I highly recommend as a resource if you tend to cater to a lot of crowds. It is geared toward entertaining and most of the recipes are pre-batched for you, giving proportions for four, six or eight servings, including an entire chapter on punches. The Green Tea Toddy is both warming and colorful, and it contains green tea, ginger and citrus to help your guests fight off those seasonal colds. As an added bonus, it uses white rum as its base—a spirit that is easy to find, and which you can find of very high quality for a fairly low price.
4 tea bags
24 oz boiling water*
1 lime, cut into ½-inch rounds
long zest of 1 small orange
1 3-inch piece of ginger, cut into 8 pieces
4 tsp sugar
8 oz white rum
Yield: 4 eight-ounce drinks
Place tea bags in a pitcher and cover with the boiling water, let steep for four minutes. Cut the orange zest into four equal pieces; divide lime rounds, ginger, orange zest and sugar among four mugs and muddle lightly. Add two ounces of rum to each glass, top each mug with six ounces of green tea, stir well and serve.
*When serving hot beverages, it is a good idea to warm your mugs before pouring scalding hot liquid into them. Before you do prep for the drinks, set out your mugs and fill them with warm-to-hot water (from the tap is fine). Let them sit while you prep your ingredients, and feel the outside of the mugs to make sure they feel nice and warm before you dump the water and start building your drinks. This will help keep your mugs from cracking when boiling water hits them (ever seen the first Final Destination?).
The original recipe did not call for muddling the fruit and ginger but I found that the flavors did not come through as strongly as I would have liked, so I recommend that you give everything a few good smashes with a muddler or a spoon to get the juices working. If you can find a white rum with a great rum flavor—Old New Orleans Crystal, Flor de Caña or the more interesting Oronoco—the slight molasses flavor plays very nicely here. The green and orange of the citrus really make a lovely, Halloween-appropriate presentation here, especially with the spicy aromatic notes of the ginger. All in all it is a bright, light and delicious alternative (or companion) to hot cider, and it makes a gorgeous display to boot.